INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The ex-wife of the man facing charges after jumping the fence at the White House and entering the building with a knife, says he needs help, not jail time.
Samantha Bell, who now has remarried and lives in southern Indiana, says she married Omar Gonzalez, an Army veteran, in 2006.
“He was a great guy. He was happy, he was outgoing, he was giddy,” said Bell. “He was very smart, very intelligent.”
But, she says something changed after his second of three tours in Iraq.
“When he came home from Iraq I just noticed different bizarre behaviors. I just knew something wasn’t right,” said Bell.
“I remember one time asking him, ‘Was it that bad over there?’ He said, ‘Yes, it was really bad. It involved children.’ I think it bothered him so much, he just never talked about it.”
Bell says Gonzalez was receiving treatment, and was heavily medicated while in treatment. She says he was diagnosed with OCD, paranoid schizophrenia, and PTSD.
“I remember when he came home from the second tour. He started keeping the blinds closed. He would go outside and walk the area, the perimeter, looking for footprints,” Bell said.
“He’d walk around with a 45 pistol at all times,” she added.
“He had guns. He had guns behind the living room door, and he had guns behind every bedroom door in the house. That’s not normal. You don’t do that,” she added, saying she never felt that he would harm her.
It was 2010, when she says the two separated, but remained friends.
“One time I called to check on him, and I said, ‘How are you doing Omar?’ He said, ‘I don’t feel good today.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Somebody’s poisoning me.’ I said, ‘Who in the world would poison you?’ He said, ‘It’s coming out of the vents.’”
“I knew he was not right, and he needed help,” Bell added. “When he got out of the military, the VA didn’t pick him up for a year, and he had nowhere to go, so he was living out of his Bronco.”
When she heard it was Gonzalez who police say ran into the White House, she said, “It’s so heartbreaking. To know the man I knew: that’s not him.”
She says she’s not sure if he still was receiving treatment, and when she heard that prosecutors said Gonzalez had more than 800 rounds of ammunition a machete, and two hachets in his car, she said, “He carried that ammunition with him everywhere he went. He didn’t put that stuff inside his car just to go to the White House. He lived out of his Bronco.”
“I don’t know what his motive was, but it wasn’t to hurt Obama,” said Bell.
“He needs proper care. He needs treatment, and throwing him in jail is not going to do anything for him. He is beyond that,” she added.